George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Major General Nathanael Greene, 29 October 1776

From Major General Nathanael Greene

Fort Lee [N.J., 29 October 1776]

Dear Sir

Colo. Lasher burnt the Barracks yesterday morning three oClock. he left all the Cannon in the Fort. I went out to examin the ground and found between two and three hundred Stand of small Arms (that were out of repair) about two miles beyound Kings Bridge, a great number of Spears, Shot Shells & so, too numerous to mention. I directed all the Waggons on the other side to be employd in geting the Stores away; and expect to get it compleated this morning. I forgot to mention five Tons of Bar Iron that was left.1 I am sorry the Barracks want [weren’t] left Standing a few days longer, it would given us an Opportunity to have got off some of the boards. I think Fort Independance might kept the Enimy at Bay, for several days—but the Troops here and on the other side are much fatigued, that it must have been a work of time.

Col. Magaw shew me a letter from Col. Read, ordering the Rangers to march and join the Army. Major Coburn was wounded in the Sunday Action.2 Col. Magaw says the Rangers are the only security to his lines, by keeping out constant patroles, their acquaintance with the ground, enables them to discover the Enimies motions in every quarter. The Col. Petitions very hard for their stay. I told him I would send an Express to learn your Excellencys further pleasure. The Col. thinks if the Rangers leaves him he must draw the Garrison in from the lines. that would be a pity as the Redoubt is not yet in any great forwardness. From the Sunday affair I am more fully convinced that we can prevent any ships from stoping the communication.

I have forwarded Eighty thousand Musket Cartridges more, under the care of a Subbalterns Guard commanded by Lt Pempelton of Col. Rollings Regiment.3

This moment heard, of the Action of yesterday. can learn no particulars—God grant you protection and success—Col. Crawford says he expects the Action to be renewd this morning.4 I hope to be commanded wherever I can be most useful. I am Dear General your most Obedient and very humble Servant

N. Greene

ALS, DLC:GW. Although Greene neglected to date this letter, Robert Hanson Harrison docketed it: “Genl Greenes Letter 29th Octr An[swere]d 31st 1776.” No reply to Greene of 31 July from GW or Harrison has been found.

1Heath’s letter to Lasher of 27 Oct., ordering the immediate evacuation of Fort Independence at King’s Bridge, says: “You will if Possible, Secure and Remove from your Post to Mount washington, The Cannon and Stores left with you. . . . Secrecy and Dispatch are esentially necessary, you will Exercise your Best Discretion as to the Practicability of geting off all the Cannon, it is probable that Colo. Magaw will afford you Some assistance should you apply to him, but your Situation will not admit of much Delay” (MHi: Heath Papers).

2Maj. Andrew Colburn, commander of the ranger corps, was wounded during the skirmish with Lord Percy’s force near Fort Washington on Sunday, 27 Oct. (see Greene to GW, 27 Oct., n.3).

3Nathaniel Pendleton, Jr. (1756–1821), of Culpeper County, Va., a nephew of Edmund Pendleton, joined Capt. Hugh Stephenson’s rifle company as a private in June 1775 and was commissioned a lieutenant in Col. Moses Rawlings’s Virginia and Maryland rifle regiment on 23 July 1776. Pendleton was captured with that regiment at Fort Washington on 16 Nov., and he remained a prisoner of war until he was exchanged in October 1780 (see GW to the Board of War, 4 Nov. 1780, DLC:GW). Although Pendleton was promoted to captain in the Virginia line during his captivity, he served as an aide-de-camp to Gen. Nathanael Greene from November 1780 to the end of the war. Congress on 29 Oct. 1781 commended Pendleton for his “particular activity and good conduct” in the Battle of Eutaw Springs (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 21:1085), and he was brevetted a major in September 1783. After the war Pendleton became an attorney in Savannah, and in 1789 GW appointed him a U.S. district judge in Georgia. Pendleton resigned his judgeship in 1796 and moved to New York.

4For accounts of the Battle of White Plains, see Robert Hanson Harrison to Hancock, this date.

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